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Renewing Hope for a Safer World

2023-02-28 10:11:00 Source:China Today Author:staff reporter ZHANG HUI
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As China gears up to unleash its economic vitality, the international political climate remains uncertain. While Western leaders acceded to Ukraine’s demands by promising more military aid at this year’s 59th Munich Security Conference (MSC), held from February 17 to 19, thousands of angry anti-war protestors took to the streets of the German host city. They demanded peace and a halt to the supply of armaments to Ukraine, not a protracted war on their continent which has triggered an energy crisis, a surge in living costs, and a refugee influx on a scale unseen since World War II. As its first anniversary drew ever nearer, the Ukraine crisis came to the front and center of the annual gathering. “On the Ukraine issue, China’s position boils down to supporting talks for peace,” China’s top diplomat Wang Yi said at the security meeting. 

Emerging from the three-year-long COVID-19 pandemic, the world is no safer. Trust between major countries is lacking, geopolitical rifts are widening, unilateralism is rampant, the Cold War mentality is back, and new types of security threats ranging from energy, food and climate to bio-security and artificial intelligence are growingly evident, Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, observed at the meeting. 

Leaders at the MSC from developing countries voiced their disillusionment with the existing world order, calling for efforts to reshape it into one featuring solidarity and win-win cooperation. Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for one, observed at a panel discussion at the Conference, titled “Recalibrating the Compass: South-North Cooperation,” how recent crises, namely, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, underlined today’s paucity of solidarity. Citing certain Western countries’ reluctance to help when Africa desperately sought access to COVID-19 vaccines, Akufo-Addo said: “That is one example of the absence of solidarity ... We need real South-North cooperation.” In an interview with Xinhua, referring to supporters of Global South countries, Togolese Foreign Minister Robert Dussey stated that China is a leading supporter of African economic development and transportation improvement. “Our challenge is to change the life of our population like the example in China,” he said. All of these African leaders expressed their urgent need for development. A report, titled “Re:vision,” released by the MSC states that the Global South has been confined to the role of “rule-takers” under the existing global order, and that their resultant “legitimate resentment” should be heeded. 

This call from the Global South for development, moreover, has been echoed by people in the United States. The derailment in the Ohio town of East Palestine on February 3 of a train carrying hazardous materials, causing a huge fire and necessitating the release of toxic chemicals, polarized media attention on the lamentable state of U.S. railways. More than a dozen trains have derailed in the U.S. since the year began, according to a Newsweek article. A video uploaded on YouTube in 2017 of a train lurching along a twisted and bendy track linking Ohio and Indiana has also been widely watched recently via Twitter. The Biden administration proposed the Build Back Better plan, as a move to improve the country’s infrastructure. But as an American netizen quipped on Twitter, “How’s that Build Back Better working out? Oh yeah. He meant Ukraine.” U.S. citizens, appalled at the parlous state of their railways, are calling on the country to revamp its infrastructure, “rather than waging endless wars.” Some have gone so far as to post pictures and articles of China’s high-speed railways to underline the stark contrast with the dilapidated U.S. counterparts. There have also been queries about the US $820 billion defense budget and the allocation of more than US $100 billion to “keep the conflict in Ukraine rolling.” Yet when it comes to infrastructure spending, “You’ll hear politicians asking where the money for this should come from,” one American netizen remarked. 

People-oriented development has been, and will always be the central task of the CPC and the Chinese government. As for the country’s international relations, “China has always been committed to its foreign policy goals of upholding world peace and promoting common development, and it is dedicated to promoting a human community with a shared future,” Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said on October 16, in the report delivered to the 20th CPC National Congress. 

Wang Yi warned at the Munich Security Conference that, at this critical juncture of history, human society must not revisit its old path of antagonism, division, and confrontation, or fall into the trap of the zero-sum game, war, and conflict. He then put forward China’s proposal to make the world a safer place, hinging on the following four principles: the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected; disputes should be peacefully resolved through dialogue and consultation; the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be upheld; and the key role of development must be fully harnessed. 

Many top diplomats from other countries at the MSC stressed in their sideline meetings with Wang Yi the importance they attach to their relations with China, intimating their intentions toward greater cooperation in fields across the board. 

Protesters in Munich voiced the European people’s desire for peace and their belief that weapons bring only death and destruction. They also decried the U.S.-led NATO for exacerbating the Ukraine crisis. Facts have proved time and again that geopolitical confrontations inevitably lead to conflicts that disrupt global industrial chains and ravage the lives of ordinary people. 

Spring is a season of hope. The global cries for peace and development are mounting to break the barrier of geopolitical narrow-mindedness. As China’s annual “two sessions” are approaching, the buzz words “rural revitalization,” “Chinese modernization,” and “technical innovation” feature prominently in domestic discussions. China’s steady and vigorous development is an important stabilizing force in today’s turbulent world, nurturing hope for global peace and development. 


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